Blackthorne Inn is located in agricultural zoning along Rt 50 between Upperville and Paris. Until it was closed last year, Blackthorne operated as a restaurant and resort with a few small events. Since then, Easton Porter Group, LLC acquired the 50.66 acre property with the desire to renew and expand the restaurant, resort, and Class C event special exceptions. The proposal includes a new 19,000 sq ft event building, a 30% increase to the current restaurant, 20 new cabins for a total of 38 private units, 3 new support structures (3,000 sq ft), and a new spa with gym. The old event building, which was added to the restaurant without a permit, would be removed.
They are requesting 5 special exceptions for the project: (1) Adaptive re-use of a historic structure for restaurant, (2) Resort, (3) Class C events, (4) Above ground water and sewer pumping storage facilities, and (5) Sewage treatment system. They are requesting a total of 108 events as a part of the Class C special exception: 34 large events with max 250 ppl, 30 small events averaging 140 ppl, and 44 corporate/social events between 25-75 guests.
Our Concerns with the Blackthorne Inn proposal include:
- The scale of the facility: The site is only 50 acres but would include enough event space to rival the nearby Salamander Inn. The project contains 24 cabins on agricultural zoning that would normally only allow one residential structure by-right.
- Lack of detail and inconsistent information The application lacks sufficient detail on the size and layout of the buildings.
- Water use We believe the application severely underestimates water consumption.
- Traffic impacts We believe the application severely underestimates vehicle trips to the site.
- Undermining of rural zoning The proposal includes prohibited activities in Agricultural zoning, such as encroachment in the 100 foot property line setback and amplified outdoor music.
- Inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan This is clearly a commercial use in an agricultural area. It does not promote or support the agricultural economy and does nothing to further the conservation of land or protection of the County’s natural resources.
Contact County staff lead, Holly Meade at Holly.Meade@fauquiercounty.gov, with your concerns.
Join the Blackthorne Project Update List managed by community leader, Kevin Ramundo by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Blackthorne Inn is located in the Agricultural District (RA zoning) between Upperville and Paris, along Rt 50 in an area planned to remain rural in nature. Prior to it’s closure, it was a restaurant and resort and had been permitted as such since the 1980’s. In 2014, a small number of Class C events with up to 120 people were approved on the site. This occurred after an event building was built without a permit. However, the site plan requirements were not met and therefore the use was not officially established. As such, prior approvals have long since expired. It is important to note that even with these approvals, the scale of the facility and events would have been much smaller than what is being proposed now.
In 2016 Easton Porter Group, LLC acquired the 50.66 acre property with the desire to renew and expand the restaurant, resort, and Class C event special exceptions. The application contains numerous inconsistencies and conflicting information making it difficult to calculate the true impact of the proposal. This is reflected in the county staff’s comments.
The proposal includes a 19,000 sqft event building, a 30% increase to the current restaurant, 20 new cabins for a total of 38 private units, 3 new support structures (3,000 sq ft), and a new spa complete with gym. The old event building, which was added to the restaurant without a permit, would be removed.
They are requesting 5 special exceptions for the project: (1) Adaptive Re-use of a historic structure for restaurant, (2) Resort, (3) Class C events, (4) Above ground water and sewer pumping storage facilities, and (5) Sewage treatment system. As a part of the Adaptive Re-use they are requesting a 30% expansion (the maximum allowed) to the historic structure with continued use as a restaurant with additional space for private dining rooms. With the resort special exception, they are requesting an additional 20 cabins for a total of 38 private units, the event venue, spa with gym, and support structures. They are requesting a total of 108 events as a part of the Class C special exception: 34 large events with max 250 ppl, 30 small events averaging 140 ppl, and 44 corporate/social events between 25-75 guests. The above ground water and sewer pumping storage facilities is due to the large amount of water and wastewater they will be handling and likely pressure needs for fire suppression in the facilities. The sewage treatment system is needed because they will be treating over 1,200 gallons of sewage per day.
Their water use study showed that they will only be using 9,049 gpd which puts them just under the 10,000 gpd threshold for a hydrogeologic test in commercial/industrial subdivisions. A hydrogeologic test usually involves a 48 to 72 hour drawdown test to insure that surrounding neighbors wells are not impacted by the increased water usage. Although this threshold does not apply to this rural development, it is a likely staff will recommend such a hydrogeologic test should the estimated use be over 10,000 gpd to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community. We believe it is likely over this threshold because Fauquier County staff has stated that the 9,049 gpd estimate is very low and water usage could actually be as high as 2.5 times that.
They have committed to using buses for major events in an effort to reduce the number of trips to the site. They claim a 250 person wedding would only generate 24 vehicle trips to the site – including event support and vendors. According to the applicant, their facility in Charlottesville, Pippin Hill, averages 12 vehicle trips for a 140 person wedding. We have not been able to find any independent confirmation of this as Albemarle County does not regulate this aspect. We believe this busing model would not be effective at this location due to the proximity of many guests from Northern Virginia and D.C.
- Statement of Justification provided by Blackthorne Inn & Restaurant (2/17/17)
- Fauquier County staff comments
- Goose Creek Association letter to the Fauquier Planning Commission (5/16/17)
- 2014 Approval for Blackthorne
- 2013 Statement of Justification for Blackthorne
- May 10, 2017: PEC outlines objections to proposed Blackthorne expansion
- May 2, 2017: Letter: Waiting to see how county leaders will handle Blackthorne Inn’s proposed expansion
- April 14, 2017: High-end resort proposal for Upperville faces hurdles
- April 5, 2017: Battle over Blackthorne Inn expansion continues
- March 9, 2017: Expansion at former Blackthorne Inn faces challenge
- August 29, 2016: Name change coming to Upperville’s Blackthorne Inn
- July 25th, 2016: Upperville’s Blackthorne Inn sells for $2.8 million